Suffrage means having the right to vote.
At the time the states ratified the Constitution, to whom did suffrage extend?
At the time the states ratified the Constitution, only white male property owners were entitled to vote.
During the first few decades of the 19th century, the property qualification was gradually abolished in almost all states (although South Carolina remained an exception).
To what group did the 15th Amendment (1870) extend voting rights?
The 15th Amendment eliminated any racial qualifications for voting; although it applied to any race, it was directed toward black suffrage in the post-Civil War era.
In 1920, the states ratified the 19th Amendment, which extended suffrage to _____ throughout the country.
Prior to ratification of the 19th Amendment, some states had allowed women to vote in local and/or national elections.
Which amendment granted the right to vote in presidential elections to the District of Columbia's citizens?
The 23rd Amendment permitted citizens of the District of Columbia to vote in presidential elections. The District has three electoral votes.
What is the minimum voting age in national elections?
Pursuant to the 26th Amendment, the minimum voting age is 18 years old.
How did the Motor Voter Act, passed in 1993, amend voting registration procedures?
The Motor Voter Act (more formally known as the National Motor Voter Registration Act), which went into effect for the 1996 presidential election, required states to offer facilities for registering voters at the same locations where those voters registered to drive. The Motor Voter Act was designed to increase voter registration.
During the Progressive Era, reformers designed measures to increase the responsibility of government to the people. What were some of these measures?
Measures advanced during the Progressive Era included the secret (Australian) ballot, initiatives, referendums, recalls, and direct primaries. Reformers intended these measures to limit the influence of party bosses.
What is the Australian ballot?
First popularized in Australia, the Australian ballot received widespread adoption in the early 1900s. Under the Australian ballot, a voter's ballot is cast in private.
As part of the Progressive Movement, the use of the Australian ballot marked a significant reform as a means of preventing voter intimidation.
In the legislative process, what is an initiative?
An initiative is a means by which a petition, signed by a requisite number of voters, can be presented as an electoral measure to the people by a whole.
During the Progressive Era, the right to propose initiatives was established in a number of state constitutions.
In the legislative process, what is a referendum?
A referendum enables voters to directly cast ballots on proposed laws.
During the Progressive Era, reformers championed the referendum as a means of enhancing the role of voters in their government.
What is a recall election?
Under a recall, an election is held to determine whether an elected official should be removed. Nineteen states permit recall elections, which are held if a certain number of voters sign petitions to that effect. The number of necessary voters varies by state.
In 2012, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived a recall attempt financed in part by public sector unions, who were dissatisfied when Walker sought to end mandatory union dues by public sector employees.
How does voter turnout in non-presidential election years compare with voter turnout in presidential election years?
Voter turnout in non-presidential election years is typically lower than voter turnout in presidential election years.
Overall, voter turnout has been decreasing since the early 1900s, which many political scientists attribute to a decline in political efficacy.
What are the two election processes that make up a campaign for president?
The two election processes are:
- Seeking the nomination: prior to the party convention, presumptive nominees compete for delegates in state-by-state primaries and caucuses
- The general election: during the general election, the candidate competes against the other party's nominee for president
A precinct is the smallest electoral district in a county.
In urban areas, counties are typically divided into wards, which are then further subdivided into precincts.
During a primary election, voters select from candidates seeking the nomination of a political party.
Technically, voters in primary elections are voting for delegates to the national convention, where the presidential candidate is officially chosen by a delegate vote. The delegates pledge that they will vote for the candidate on the convention's first ballot.
The trend is that the leading candidate typically has a majority of convention delegates before the convention; thus, only one ballot is taken.
National political campaigns often complain of the "front-loading of primaries." What do they mean?
Front-loading of primaries is when a state moves up the date of its primary. Since primaries are incredibly important to a candidate's campaign, the effect of moving up the primary date is to increase that state's importance.
The two earliest primary states are typically Iowa and New Hampshire, and other often jockey for position behind them. Political parties have been known to penalize states for moving their primaries too early.
What is the difference between closed and open primaries?
While both open and closed primaries choose a party's nominee, during a closed primary voting is only open to registered members of a party. During an open primary, anyone may cast a ballot to determine a party's nominee.
What is a blanket primary?
In a blanket primary, voters pick one candidate for each elective office without consideration of party lines. The candidates with the highest vote totals by party for each office then stand in the general election as their party's nominee. Blanket primaries are used only in Alaska and Washington.
As an example, during a blanket primary a voter may choose a Republican gubernatorial candidate and a Democratic candidate for state treasurer.
What takes place in a runoff primary?
Some states have laws requiring a second primary, known as a runoff primary, if no candidate receives a majority of the primary votes.
How do "winner-take-all" primaries work?
In a winner-take-all primary, the candidate who wins the plurality of primary votes wins the entire delegate count of that state.
Not all states have winner-take-all primaries; some states award delegates based on each candidate's pro-rata share of the primary vote.
Although most states use the primary system of choosing candidates, a small handful use the caucus system. What takes place in the caucus system?
In caucus systems, party members meet at the precinct level, where they choose representatives to county meetings. At these county meetings, representatives are chosen for the state convention, where the state's preference for a nominee is made by choosing delegates to the national convention.
During the primaries, candidates direct their message toward which type of voters?
During the primaries, candidates attempt to appeal to the party faithful, who make up the large majority of primary voters. Once the nomination is secured, candidates then attempt to appeal to moderates and independents at the center of the political spectrum.
Not suprisingly, the different messages delivered in the primary and general election seasons often lead to charges that a candidate is a "flip-flopper."
Before potential candidates officially announce their candidacy for office, they sometimes form exploratory committees. These committees put the candidates' name before the voters, gauge media and political support, and ascertain the availability of financing.
Why are the states of Iowa and New Hampshire so important to presidential candidates?
Iowa and New Hampshire have the first delegate selection contests. Iowa holds a caucus, while New Hampshire has a primary. Candidates spend significant time in the two states.
Winning one, or both, of these states provides significant advantage to a candidate, both from media coverage and the availability of funds, because donors are more willing to support a candidate they view as a winner.
On _____ _____, up to half of all states have primary elections.
Since Super Tuesday primaries are held in a wide variety of states, they are the first real tests of a candidate's nationwide appeal. Further, since almost 50% of convention delegates are at issue, a strong showing on Super Tuesday can secure the nomination.
What is the difference between a split-ticket vote and a straight-ticket vote?
If a voter casts a split-ticket vote, it means he/she divides the vote between candidates of different parties. For instance, the voter may vote for a Democratic senator and a Republican representative.
If a voter casts a straight-ticket vote, it means that he/she voted for candidates all from the same party.
What is the role of the Federal Election Commission?
The Federal Election Commission discloses campaign finance information and enforces federal election laws, including those that put dollar limits on the amount of contributions a candidate may receive from each supporter.
What did the Federal Election Campaign Act establish?
Passed in the wake of Watergate, the Federal Election Campaign Act provided matching funds for both primary and general election candidates. The Act provides that for each dollar raised, a matching amount of funds will be provided by the federal government, provided the candidate agrees to some restrictions on contributions from the public.
The system was designed to eliminate the influence of money in politics, and provide outsiders with a chance to win their party's nomination. In 2008, President Obama declined federal funds, and both candidates did so in 2012.
How does the case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976) affect federal elections?
In Buckley, the Court upheld the Federal Election Campaign Act, which limited the amount a donor could contribute directly to a candidate's campaign.
The Court did strike down a portion of the act, which prohibited candidates from contributing a large amount to their own campaigns.
What limits did the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 place on contributions to political campaigns?
The Campaign Finance Reform Act (also known as the McCain-Feingold Act) limited the amount of hard-money contributions to campaigns to $2,000, and banned soft-money contributions from corporations to political parties.
In 2010, the Court struck down the provisions of the Campaign Finance Reform Act as unconstitutional in Citizens United v. FEC.
What decision did the Supreme Court reach in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)?
In Citizens United, the Court struck down portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, that prohibited electioneering communications from unions, corporations, and not-for-profits in the days shortly before an election. The Court held that the act violated the First Amendment rights of these groups.
The term "Solid South" refers to the dominance of the Democratic Party in the former Confederate States, which lasted roughly from the end of Reconstruction until the 1960s, when Southern Democrats broke with the party over the issue of civil rights.
Elections that occur halfway through a president's term are known as _____ _____.
Midterm elections take place for the entirety of the House, and 1/3 of the Senate. They are exceedingly important for presidents, as both a gauge of the popularity of their terms to date, and for ensuring that one or both houses of Congress remain in control of their party.
What is the coattail effect?
The coattail effect takes place when a popular candidate "rides on the coattails of" (influences) the success of another candidate of the same party.
The coattail effect takes place because (a) a popular candidate brings voters out to the polls, and (b) many voters vote a straight ticket.
A plurality election is one in which there are multiple candidates, but the candidate achieving the most votes (not necessarily a majority) is elected to office.
While the Constitution requires that the president be elected by a majority (or the election is decided by the House of Representatives), there is no constitutional requirement that congressmen be elected by a majority.